Friday, 24 February 2012
Ten For Ten
By Tim David Harvey
Honourable Mention-You just knew Blake was going to get it. The most exciting highlight of the last All-Star weekend was as creative as ever on Saturday, as the dunk contest was a slam dunk of a success. Blake Griffin won the contest by jumping over a car as he caught Baron Davis alley-out the sunroof. OK, so he only jumped over the bonnet of the car but still he wasn't wearing Kobe's 'hyperdunks'. It was still good enough for his choir and everyone in the arena to believe he could fly. Blake also rolled out an impressive array of dunks, including a 10 out of 10, 360, a tornado of a windmill and a honey dip dunk, where he went deeper into the jar then Vince did, (he's got the marks to prove it). Runner up, Javale McGee was also incredible, dunking two balls in two baskets and then jamming three balls in one go. DeMar DeRozen also had a bag of tricks and Serge Ibaka represented Africa to the full raising flags, saving kids toys with his teeth and jumping from further away from the free throw line then Mike and the good Doctor did. Rim rock and roll all round.
10. ISAIAH RIDER: Who shot J.R. that night in '94? Because whoever did got the perfect picture. As Isiah took it back ten years to the eighties and Orlando Woolridge. Rider rode the baseline and put it between his legs before he planted it in the hoop at the dunk contest in Minnesota, representing his Timberwolves. It's a shame that this man's playing career was also a royal flush because at one time the man could of been king. At least for that evening, he was on the throne.
9. HAROLD MINER: Sure his NBA career wasn't what people expected, but boy did Minor make a major mark on the dunk-contest. He may have never been the heir to Jordan's throne but he is in the elite company of 'Like Mike' dunkers who have won the contest more then once. Plus that between the legs reverse will always be re-winded between NBA TV and Youtube for decades to come. That's still a lasting legacy, shame about his league legend.
8. DEE BROWN: Gerald Green paid homage to Boston history with a little help from Nate Robinson and won the 2007 dunk contest by looking to the past and covering his eyes. Still as good as the Celtic's Green was, (birthdays and all) nothing beats an original. When Dee Brown took off and covered both his eyes with his forearm he not only dunked the basketball but he changed the way the dunk contest were seen in the NBA. From then on a new style of complicated dunks where ushered in. So we take our hand a little higher over our eyes and salute Dee.
7. KOBE BRYANT: Kobe's one of those guys that you wish you'd see more of in the dunk contest, especially in his air-balling, sky-rocketing, pre-fro' early days. Still these days the dunk contest seems as fashionable as throwback jerseys, but still both are cool. Plus, they both like to be enjoyed but not tried on, as Kobe has been one of the most upstanding spectators for performances like Dwight's in 2008. Still in 1996 it was this bald-headed rookie that was getting the fans out their seats. He didn't even take off his warm-ups for a complicated reverse jam. Still, it was no sweat, it was just Kob'.
6. NATE ROBINSON: If it wasn't for Spud Webb before him then Nate would have been higher. Still this little man with big hops, leads all winners as the only player to win the contest three times. OK, so popular consensus might not have liked the win last year, but everybody loved what Nate was doing en route to his first win in 2006, (despite those who thought Igudola should have been the reigning, rim rocker). In a new decade where tribute dunks have become the trend, Nate did one better and jumped over his idol and small, big dunk legend Spudd Webb. Then two years later Robinson went one better again, donning the New York Knick, ST. Patrick Green and some florescent green trainers to form 'Krypto-Nate'. Superman, Dwight Howard had met his match as Nate the great cleared him and took off to the rim. As Robinson dunked over Dwight he performed a little dance that told the crowd, it's over. He may not be in the contest this year, but best believe he will be missed. No matter what they say.
5. SPUD WEBB: The original, small man was there decades before Nate and even defeated team-mate and superior slammer Dominique Wilkins one year. Spud amazed the crowd with his dunks, as he bounced the ball and jumped like he had electric springs in his step. Webb has drawn all sorts of fans from the arena in 1986 all the way to Internet blogs today. Webb at 5,7 looked like a child dunking the peach but still showed he had the potatoes to risk looking like a fool in front of millions. What the audience witnessed however was genius and a dunking revolution.
4. DOMINIQUE WILKINS: When it came to the dunk, Dominique dominated and thanks to some epic battles with Michael Jordan he made the contest more then just exciting, he made it interesting. Taking the crown 26 years ago in '86, 'Nique was one of the first to do it and every dunk from this soaring Hawk-even in losing contests-was classic like the American Eagle. As Wilkins spread his wings the dunk was expanded into the basketball world. Now he may have done this in games every night but in the dunk contest Wilks was able to show it in all it's glory, victory or not.
3. VINCE CARTER: Vince Carter may be one of the most important Slam Dunk winners of all time. Why? Because with Air Jordan gone and the contest on a two year hiatus, Air Canada needed to really arrive in Oakland for the new millennium...and boy did he arrive taking the contest out it's departure days. He brought a tornado reaction with his windmill, had people spinning with his 360, and brought people like bee's to his sweet, honey dip. He damn near broke his arm on that play. These where the type of moments that made a man who is now the most hated in Toronto one of the most popular basketball players of all-time. His dunks where so good that he even made us forget about Steve Francis great stuffs and those of cousin and then team-mate Tracy McGrady. Still, when T-Mac threw the alley and Vince got it between his legs for the oop, Carters to-camera reaction was all she wrote. Vinsane!
2. DWIGHT HOWARD: Dun, Dun, DUUUUUUUUUUUUH! Just when you thought it was over for the copycat, routine dunk contest, Dwight Howard channelled Vince Carter's redefinition and revolutionised the dunk contest in 2008. The previous year, Dwight stickered a 12 foot, bible-belting slam, but '08 would be a real testament to his pure power. Not only did he show poise and finesse, by tapping the ball of the glass to himself and slamming home, the big joker also drew trademark smiles by switching from a small basket to a big one. Still, the real big one of the night, was when he donned a superman vest and cape and took off from the free-throw line. He flew so high he literally threw the ball in the hoop. A year later he went one better and dunked on a 12 foot rim and entertained everyone from Phoenix to the rest of the world. 'Krypto-Nate' may have beat him fair and square but at the end of the day without Superman Lex Luthor would have no challenge.
1. MICHAEL JORDAN: Mike is the best ever period, in any game (well, maybe not rounders) and back to back in 1987 and 1988, Mike showed the NBA that the real high-light of the All-Star weekend might just be on a Saturday. Mike duelled, duked and dunked it out with Dominique, turning him into the dunk contests Los Angeles Lakers to Jordan's Boston Celtics. In beating all his opponents, Mike didn't just give us a show, he put on a clinic. Even doctors and scientists couldn't figure out how this man did what he did. Even if you argue that there has been better dunks, try and think of what image best represents the contest,(or hey, even Jordan's career) then the one of him taking off from the free throw line, with his arm raised, legs cocked and gold chain glistening and flying. Can't think of anything? That's because the whole reason you watch this sport and even want to dunk begins with this man and with that this ends here.
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Hey now, that's an All-Star!
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
If you can't wait for tomorrows big game, why not 'Take 5' and reminisce the five greatest All-Star games of the last decade? From self-assisted dunks to political statements, it's been a great and important 10 years for the NBA's favourite, weekend holiday. Now that's entertainment. Let's take a look back at the times when amazing really did happen.
5. DALLAS-2010: NBA history was made last year to the tune of 108, 713 record breaking, screaming fans. It took a couple of Dallas Cowboys to usher these hoop dreamers into an NFL stadium. Dwyane Wade took his deserved MVP award with LeBron James standing right behind him (who would have thought back then?) and with a 141-139 thriller over four quarters it felt like M.J was back in the building. It was Team Jordan that showed the flashes of brilliance however as Wade's performance looked as good as the half-time show featuring the beautiful Alicia Keys and Shakira. A big, big night all round. The NBA broke new ground with this sell-out as timeless basketball truly touched down. Forget the Superbowl, this was the sporting highlight of the first quarter of 2010.
4. PHILADELPHIA-2002: Out in Philly where Kobe Bryant was born and raised, the MVP made this court his playground with most of his plays. Despite the boos, Kobe's 31 point, 5 assist and 5 rebound performance could not be denied. As he took top honours the West cracked the East 135-120 at Philadelphia's First Union Centre. Home-team hero Allen Iverson may not have turned home-court advantage to a game, set and match, but by donning number 6 in honour of Sixers legend, Julius Erving he served up another special moment in a game of many. This was the last game where the players wore their respective team jerseys, but more importantly Michael Jordan's first All-Star game since coming out of retirement with his Washington Wizards. Mike played great, but on a break-away run to the basket, floor-Jordan clanged a dunk off the rim for a hilarious and unfortunate moment. Still, when Tracy McGrady passed the ball off the backboard glass to himself from just beyond half-court and slammed it home he gave the game it's greatest moment and re-set the trend for dunks and All-Star spectacles to come.
3. PHOENIX-2009: Nothing beats big-game side-stories and everyone likes a tale of redemption, even if you have to go through a desert to find it. Thanks to the Phoenix Suns, the 'Big Cactus', Shaquille O'Neal played on the same team as Kobe Bryant for the first time since their death of a dynasty out in Los Angeles. The last time these two played together in an All-Star game, the two Lakers combined for a Jerry West esque, 44 points, cementing the dynamics of their duo at their home-hosting Staples. Still, a lot had happened since then, but in Phoenix all those past problems dried up as the thought of foes showed they where really friends. Under the coaching of Phil Jackson it all felt like 2001 again as the West took a 19-0 run with Shaq and Kobe on the floor together. The pair combined for the West's 146-119 drubbing and co-MVP honours, in a story that sounded as good as John Legend's half-time show.
2. NEW ORLEANS-2008: It was a close 134-128 win for the East and LeBron James took the MVP honours with 27 points and was 1 assist and 2 rebounds away from a triple-double. New Boston Celtic player, Kevin Garnett was the top-vote getter while Dwight Howard put on a classic show, re-invigorating and revolutionising the dunk-contest. Yao Ming didn't play and Kobe Bryant almost joined him on the bench. Still none of this mattered compared to the biggest story of the weekend, where the game was played. New Orleans held the 57th All-Star game in the New Orleans Arena in Louisiana. In a statement of solidarity that others couldn't muster, the NBA showed they really cared, proving it wasn't just about basketball, or golf for that matter. Now watch their food drives. In return New Orleans as a city, just three years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina proved they where perfect hosts. This wasn't just one of the best All-Star games it was also one of the NBA's finest and most proud moments.
1. ATLANTA-2003: Michael Jordan hit a fadeaway jumper over Shawn Marion with 5 seconds to go in overtime putting the East up by a bucket, showing that even with the future of The Matrix, Jordan's basketball creation was present and correct. In his last ever All-Star game, this signature move looked to score a storybook ending to the most legendary of careers. That was until the heir to the airs throne, Kobe Bryant re-wrote history. As Jermaine O'Neal sent Kobe to the line, Bryant's killer instinct must have felt a little bit merciful for his hero's last All-Star moment. Still, Kobe's no coward and he sent the game into a second overtime, where MVP Kevin Garnett did the rest. Still everything about their thrilling, hard-fought, long 155-145 Western win was classic. From Vince Carter standing aside to let Mike start, to the resurrection of the classic, East and West All-Star jerseys. Even the way the court and the lighting looked gave the evening a vintage feel and as for the basketball itself, timeless.
Now enjoy tomorrow!
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Today making her debut on this site is the superbly talented Sandra Evans. A writer and owner of the website 'Sports Management Degrees'. Today she gives us a history lesson in the name of the Lakers. Check her out.
Learn something new everyday: Why are they known as the Lakers when there aren’t really any lakes in Los Angeles?By Sandra Evans.
This may be a question that avid Lakers fans already know the answer to, but I’m sure there are people out there like me who always wondered but never took the time to find out why. Well, I actually took a little time today to do some research, and I would like to share my new-found knowledge.
The Lakers franchise actually began before the NBA existed. In 1947, the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League (NBL) were purchased and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The new team was strong but became an even bigger threat with the addition of George Mikan, a 6-10 center who had just led the Chicago American Gears to a NBL Championship in the previous season.
The owners wanted a new name for this promising new team, so they chose a name that honored the Minnesota state nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Calling themselves the Lakers, the team won the NBL championship in their first season (1947-48). There was no denying that Mikan was an amazing player. Scoring an average of 24.4 points per game in postseason play, the NBA calls Mikan professional basketball’s “first superstar.”
The Minneapolis Lakers moved to the Basketball Association of America (BAA) for its 1948-49 season. That year, George Mikan led the team to another championship; he played the last three games with a broken wrist and still scored 22 points in game five.
In 1949, the NBL and BAA merged to form the NBA. The Minneapolis Lakers became an even stronger team with the addition of a few promising first-year players. Unable to be stopped, the Lakers won the first NBA Finals in 1950. After that, the team went on to win three more NBA finals in 1952, 1953 and 1954. After George Mikan retired, the franchise began to struggle with attendance, so they decided to relocate to Los Angeles in 1960.
To keep the team’s great history and winning tradition alive, the franchise chose to maintain the name, and the Los Angeles Lakers became the first NBA team on the West Coast. Since the move to LA, the Lakers have won 11 more NBA championships and 25 conference titles. It seems that no matter where the home court, the name “Lakers” is associated with winning.
On a side note: Did you know that there are actually a few recreation lakes in and around the Los Angeles area? The largest one nearest to the city center is Echo Park Lake, a 9-acre lake that allows fishing and has paddle boats. Also, Minnesota is actually a land of approximately 11, 842 lakes, not 10,000, with more shoreline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.
About the Author: Sandra Evans owns the website Sports Management Degrees. In her leisure time, she enjoys playing tennis and writing.
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
C.P's third time lucky.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
That was how Chris Paul's tweet following David Stern nixing his trade to the Los Angeles Lakers this rushed offseason read, and it says it all about the young point's influence on the game to begin this lockout-shortened 2011/2012 campaign.
After CP didn't form the league's second biggest three in Lakerland with the Voltron of Kobe Bryant and what could have been Dwight Howard, he ended up leaving the cotton-wool protected Hornets nest anyway, heading to Los Angeles and the STAPLES Centre like intended, but for a hardwood floor that reads "Clippers."
So now Chris Paul is leading the Los Angeles Clippers with sophomore sensation and dunking dynamo Blake Griffin. The league's top point guard and next biggest star now form arguably the league's best inside and out, one-two punch in the NBA. Especially since Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony didn't get out of the Madison Square Garden gates as quickly and effectively as they like.
Speaking of New York, Chris Paul's former running mate in New Orleans Tyson Chandler turned into a star thanks to CP3's lobs. Now—as Eric Gordon has less to throw to in Louisiana—expect Blake to highlight his own weekly 'Top Ten Plays' syndicate with Chris Paul alleying the oop.
The Clippers look as white-hot as their jerseys now, with Kenyon Martin adding his passion to a punishing frontline featuring DeAndre Jordan and Griffin. And although they have lost Chauncey Billups' veteran stability fr the season due to an achilles injury, guys like Mo Williams and Randy Foye make this team more stacked than Pringles. At the second spot out west they really are popping with no signs of stopping.
Playoffs guaranteed...what more will we see?
Chris Paul deserves this, the former Hornet really was a New Orleans saint, quarterbacking his NBA franchise and lifting a downtrodden city with all his spirit. Beyond his charity and his play, Paul gave New Orleans everything they have.
There will always be love.
The Clippers used to be a team that looked up to the STAPLES rafters of retired jerseys and Championship banners with jealousy. Well now it's the Lakers that are looking green with envy, and it's not at the Celtics, it's at their neighbours.
It's bad enough that some Laker fans and players wish Griffin was their creation or just the subject of myth, well now they are watching what they could have had if it wasn't for a vetoed trade.
Not only did they lose the chance to have their greatest point guard since Magic (and arguably one of the best in the whole league since) they also lost a disgruntled Lamar Odom for nothing. Trading their most versatile player to the Dallas Mavericks, the team that swept the former Champions last year en route to their own victorious season.
The Lakers are literally gutted and having issues of form. The Clippers, on the other hand, are finally shaking the notion that they'll always be a bad team. This really is a changing of the guard.
A change in the City of Angels that makes for a heaven sent rivalry of epic Hollywood proportions. You couldn't script it better. Some may say David Stern sure can direct, others know that Los Angeles is the city where dreams are made and broken. Unfortunately for the purple and gold side, it seems to be Chris Paul and his Los Angeles Clippers' time.
It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Saturday, 11 February 2012
The new New York Knick.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Those who thought Asia's influence on the basketball world retired with Yao Ming are wrong.
They forgot about an Asian-American named Jeremy Lin.
A Los Angeles-born, Harvard grad who only this season was waived by Yao's former Houston Rockets , Lin has made the Knicks and New York City his own.
He has taken the Knicks' bad form, Baron Davis's injury woes and Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony's suit-and-tie roles and made them a secondary story.
He has has taken the attention from mega-stars Anthony and Stoudemire and created a core group of Lin fans who shine brighter than the lights in Times Square a few blocks away.
Those fans are making his jersey out-sell those new trade-deadline jerseys, and stretch longer than Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn, not to mention the Meadowlands and New Jersey. Or for that matter, the whole National Basketball Association and the United States Of America.
China, Taiwan and the rest of Asia, not to mention the rest of the world, are watching as well.
Lin is even taking over the world's biggest community; Twitter.
Lin took Kobe's comments about not knowing who he is and made him eat them along with his Spalding. He outscored Kobe 38-34 Friday night at Madison Square Garden, beating a team that usually makes MSG its own in early February. But not this leap year.
Four more points and a forgone conclusion later, Kobe knows who Lin is now.
Jeremy Shu-How Lin.
This is more than a hot streak. It's the end of a cold winter in New York City. This unseasonable warmth is making this city hotter than Lana Del Rey. Lin's play is like what you see in video games. Flawless.
His Knicks weren't born to die. Success is coming like Earl The Pearl and Walt Frazier. Jeremy Lin was born to run.
How good is this kid?
We must apologize to the Erie BayHawks because the NBDL isn't for Lin anymore. He belongs to the big leagues now. His averages of 11.2 points and 1.90 rebounds in Erie don't do him justice. Last night's 38 beans against Kobe Bryant does.
Sure, here comes the hype and the buzz, but it's justified. This young man is that good.
It's more than the points scored. It's how he's lifted a team and a city that over this last year were engineered to be great but faltered at the start of the season. It's the potential we can see. Trust when they start picking Rookie's of the Year, Lin will be more than just a consideration.
When Amar'e, Carmelo, Baron and Tyson Chandler get it together, the Knicks will be much more than a team bobbing for apples. They'll be a team with a core hotter than magma, but with the volcano erupting talent of Lin they'll be so much more.
The kid who was being written off because of his slender figure is rewriting the Knicks season script, bulking up and bolstering their roster.
And now the whole world is watching a kid who's putting a team, a city and two continents on those skinny-but-strong shoulders.
Just how good could this kid get?